(I tried to upload pictures but it just isn’t going to happen. I will make an album on Picasa for them soon and post the link here).
Today marks my one week anniversary of arriving in Gabon! It feels like forever ago that I left…I feel like I have been here in Libreville longer than 6 days. Someone told me before I left that the first two weeks crawl by and the rest fly by…not sure if that is a good thing or not!
For the past few days I have been working in the mornings at the clinic, OSPAC. Both days JR left me to fend for myself language-wise, but I am totally cool with that because it lets me interact completely with the staff–I get to practice my French and they their English. Both days there were very few patients, but they were still amazing experiences. I am going to try to take pictures of the building when I go again because it is hard to describe the little place. Let’s just suffice to say that it is definitely a third-world clinic yet I know that more meaningful care is given to people there than at many of the hospitals in America.
When a patient comes in, they go into the little screened area where the nurses consult him/her. We take their blood pressure and they explain their symptoms. Usually then the nurse prescribes them some medicine that they have at the clinic. Some patients are referred to Bongolo Hospital (a day’s drive away) or to another CMA clinic. So far, most of the ailments I have seen are simply caused by lack of medicine.
In the other room of the 2-room building is an eye clinic…the waiting room over there is always full. Many of the people who come in merely need a pair of glasses, but here in Libreville those cost $600 a pair. So there is a man, Joseph, who sits in a room with a single table and makes eye glasses for people who need them. He has a pamphlet/book called something like “Glasses for Missions” and then he has a wooden block tool thing that he uses for bending and twirling wire and cutting the round disks of lenses. So these glasses are pretty much pieces of wire bent into a frame with lenses slid into place. Crudely made yet actually kinda chic! I told Joseph that if I ever need glasses I will come to Libreville to get some. Check out Leanne’s post to see some pictures of these amazing things!
Yesterday (Friday) I went in the morning to the beach with Dan and Alicia. The part of the coast they go to is right by a little hotel so the trash is pretty cleaned up and there are some nice tropical trees shading parts of the beach. (Pictures, of course, but you’ll have to wait for those). We were the only ones there except for a family who hauled in a huge fishing net. Even on the coast it was tres chaud (very hot) and by the time we got back to the Straws house I was baked! Next, Pito took us on a field trip to a market. Ok, when I say market, picture a HUGE outdoor mall! But not like a farmer’s market, really. The huge let-down is that it’s rude here to take pictures of things without asking so I couldn’t take any. But we walked for at least an hour down alleys, through hot buildings, and around stands piled with anything you can imagine. Ginger roots, bananas, crabs, chicken feet, yams, beans, fish, bread, and then things like toothbrushes, mirrors, pirated DVD’s, sunglasses (I bought a pair), fabric (I bought some of that), purses, clothing…anything you would need for survival!
The sad part of the day was when we got back to the Straws afterwards and JR discovered that someone stole his bag out of the car that holds everything important to him–passport, bank card, money, etc. I admired him so much, though, because he was able to say, “I will trust God. He can use this for good.”
Tonight the Straws and the OSPAC staff are coming over for a party. My first African party! And at the perfect time, too, to celebrate my one-week anniversary (not really, haha)! I am starving, but we are going to pray for a while before we eat! That’s another amazing thing, the prayer mentality these people have. Prayer is as much a part of their lives as eating. Being among these believers is showing me a whole new dimension to faith…to God. I pray that in some way I could be as much of a blessing to them as they are to me.